Changes to testing in ESSA

The following testing provisions are included in the ESSA:

  • Families can refuse testing if state has an opt-out policy or law but states are required to determine what to do if a school or district does not reach the 95% participation rate
  • States may limit testing as a percentage of instructional hours
  • States may exempt advanced 8th grade math students from their grade level math test who meet certain conditions
  • Districts may select an alternate HS assessment that aligns with state standards such as the ACT or SAT
  • Schools must notify parents of state & district policies regarding student participation in assessments mandated by ESSA. Detailed information about what tests are required, what they are designed to assess, what the testing window is, and when parents can expect their child’s results must be posted on the school website.  This new requirement will start with the 2016-17 school year
  • Innovative Assessment & Accountability grants, initially limited to 7 states, are available
  • States may apply for Assessment Audit grants to reduce redundant or low-quality tests and states can provide sub-grants to local districts to conduct their own audits.

Teacher head of the class 5Give feedback to OSPI and help shape ESSA implementation

It is vital that educators with real classroom and school experience help drive the ESSA implementation. Two ways you can make your voice heard is by submitting feedback to OSPI via their online form or by attending one of the regional forums open to the public.

  • Federal requirements

    US_Capitol_SouthThe passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the 2015 reauthorization of ESEA, maintains previous requirements to annually administer English Language Arts and Math tests in grades 3-8 and once in high school. A science test must also be administered once during grades 3-5, once during grades 6-8 and once in high school.

    To meet federal and state requirements for testing, Washington state started using the Smarter Balanced Assessment in spring 2015 for ELA and Math, a test aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The science requirement is being met by the MSP at grades 5 & 8 and Biology EOC in HS, a test that eventually will be aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. The WA-AIM can be administered as an alternative to the SBA for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Eligibility for the WA-AIM is determined by a child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.

    ESSA also mandates that states provide for an annual assessment of English proficiency of all English Language Learners. Washington’s adoption of the ELPA21 starting in the 2015-16 school year will fulfill this requirement. Learn more about this test

    In addition, school districts that receive Title I federal funding to aid educationally disadvantaged students in high poverty areas must periodically participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). To find out more about the NAEP, including if your school will be participating, visit OSPI’s site.

  • State requirements

    Get information about which tests are required for graduation and learn about the histroy of state mandated tests.

    Learn more
  • Local requirements

    Staff, students and families should consult with their local district to determine what district or building required assessments are administered. Locally determined assessments may be used to measure student growth at the classroom level or could be utilized to help determine eligibility for school or district programs.

    WEA members know that teacher-driven, classroom based assessments provide some of the strongest data about student growth. Districts should include teachers and other education professionals in determining what, if any, assessments shall be administered at the district or building level.

  • Opting out of standardized tests

    Parents/guardians have the right to opt their children out of standardized tests. Learn more about how districts may set local policies related to testing and state high school graduation requirements.
    Learn more
  • Educators on testing

    See what WEA members had to say about the state’s 2015 administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.
    Learn more